This particular rant is something I’ve been wanting to say for years (and has been sitting in my Drafts folder for a while; written in 2010 in Singapore so many of the things I say here don’t apply to the US). Other than a few adjustments to reflect the passage of time, the essay is unchanged.
What sparked it was two things happening on a discussion board in one week. One was a thread where some hobbyists reacted badly to a touring escort charging $350USD/hr (the nerve! the gall! the audacity! the envy!) and another was a PM to me, an attempt by a hobbyist to “help” me navigate the Singapore scene and make sure I’m not charging too much. (Russian girls at Brix are the “cream of the crop” and I’m not so I can’t charge more than they do, which was $300SGD/hr according to him. I wonder if he knew there were two non-Russian indies charging right at $1000SGD/hr in Singapore at that time. I charged a minimum $500SGD/hr or $800SGD/2hrs, depending.)
Despite the hand-wringing and general disbelief of hobbyists, my clients are usually pretty happy with me. I’m personable, intelligent, interesting, beautiful, mentally-mature and fully focused on their needs. I don’t have a pimp hiding in the corner, I won’t phone-stalk them at 4am, I don’t try to manipulate them into becoming my “boyfriend” or desperately taking risks to make a few extra bucks to support my starving extended family in some poverty-stricken country. I don’t chase extra money or presents: clients pay my fee and that’s it. Their responsibility ends (sometimes they’re spontaneously moved to extremely kind generosity). I’m with them because I want to be — they’re with me for exactly the same reason. To me, that’s all cream. For everyone. [Insert sex joke here, if you must.]
Just because hobbyists can’t imagine something doesn’t mean it can’t exist. I’ve been fighting this stupid battle since 2002. The narrow vision and nosy desire to control a stubborn, independent cuss of a woman just keeps on keeping on. Sigh.
This year the December 17 memorial site has short bios for some of the victims. It’s about time. Credit to whomever implemented the idea. Humanizing and properly memorializing the victims is so very important.
Accessing justice is very difficult for sex workers living and working under US laws.
Violence against sex workers is legally-sanctioned here in the US. Unless you get really lucky and find someone who is willing to help you and has the power to do so (and that someone likely won’t come from a sex work org), you’re going to end up dead. I’m not trying to derail this day to make it about Jill and I because we’re alive and I can’t complain about that. But it was perfectly clear to us through the last six months that the system was willing to let us be killed rather than take minimal measures to protect us. It wasn’t just that we were fighting an enemy entrenched with the legal system (Pig), a large part of it was that we were women, and sex workers.
How much harder is it for women who know they’re in danger but don’t have any help at all? The news is filled with women killed by former partners or men they’ve rejected but never had a relationship with. Some of those women have been sex workers. Legal protections rarely extend to sex workers. Their surviving loved ones have almost no hope of justice. Someone tell me I’m wrong and that most of the men who killed sex workers in the US this year were apprehended. I’d be thrilled to know that and make a correction.
I’m not down on sex work orgs — they do vital outreach and education in the US. The one thing they really have no ability to offer is legal protection or access justice. Legal referrals are difficult to get because there are very few people in the system who are okay with helping sex workers. Very few. (The one sex work org referral I got ended up being a vice officer who was skeptical that Pig had broken any laws — yeah, that’s a big help.) It’s far easier to find a doctor willing to treat sex workers because we’re seen as disease vectors who need monitoring. Far harder for someone in the legal system to see us as anything but ready-made criminals.
US sex work orgs are severely hampered by the laws, obviously, which makes their ability to offer protection or justice slim. Changing the laws is the answer. Always. That hasn’t changed and will never change.
The best protection any victim, or potential victim, could have is to be viewed as a citizen of equal worth to anyone else. That their life is worth defending, their death worth preventing. Not regulating them to criminal, non-human status is a huge start in getting to that place.
Jill had the idea of a lawsuit brought by victims’ families holding the people who make these laws responsible. It’s a unique idea, and worth exploring. (You can hear Jill and I discuss this, and a few other topics, on a brief radio show.)
In the same vein, the Vancouver police department issued a video statement of how sex workers are to be treated. Basically, like humans and citizens with rights. Revolutionary.
What every sex worker faces in the fight for justice, whether in the larger activist sense or in the smaller sense of considering whether to file a police report or restraining order.
These thoughts came about due to reading the about the legal defense tactics of Oklahoma cop Daniel Holtzclaw, “The Claw.” He specifically chosen stigmatized women with criminal charges of some kind or another to rape: sex workers, women with drug addictions, and all of them black. He knew they were easy targets and no one would believe them if they ever dared come forward, including a 17yr old. His actions came to light after he sexually assaulted a woman who was none of the above. (Echoes of Gary Ridgeway, anyone?)
Unsurprisingly, his defense is resting on tearing apart the women he assaulted, which is easy to do because they’re imperfect victims. They’re not angels, even the underage teen had an outstanding warrant for trespassing.
The empty-courtroom lack of support for the victims of Holtzclaw is what moved me to write this post. Some of his victims are fellow sex workers. I’m not aware of any sex work org that offered support to them in any form, correct me if I’m wrong. Various women’s groups seem to be shying away from supporting his victims as well, presumably because they are not “perfect” women, especially with drug use and sex work aspects.
These tactics have been used on every woman who has ever filed rape charges against anyone; against any sex worker who has attempted to file charges against anyone for anything. The most recent use of both sex work stigma and the imperfect victim in the courtroom is Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver’s (aka War Machine) defense that since his ex-girlfriend Christie Mack was a porn star, she pre-consented to everything he did to her.
Imperfect victims may not be easy to like. They may do shady or illegal things themselves. They make what others consider bad decisions. (Generally, it’s seen as bad decision on their part to get in the way of their assaulter’s fist or rapist’s penis.)
While most people use the term “unsympathetic” victim, I’m using the term “imperfect” because I think this has much more to do with the victims being easily judged by others for their flaws and shortcomings, as opposed to whether or not they’re relatable and/or pitiable. Their obvious social imperfections make it very easy to “other” them, leading to their condemnation — as opposed to focusing on the perpetrators who harmed them.
Yes, there’s a personal interest here. All Jill and I have been for the past 3.5yrs are imperfect victims (that is, assuming we’re seen as victims at all). I do not like identifying as a “victim” but from a legal standpoint, I am. Like these woman, a predator saw an opportunity and took it. Every lawyer Jill and I have consulted with has been concerned about our sex work coming up in court. Because of this “concern” by gutless lawyers, we’ve never seen the inside of a courtroom because they were too afraid to take on the case. Why was it somehow bad that I was a sex worker injured by my client, yet not seen as legally vulnerable for him to have been a client? Sex work stigma, imperfect victim, female.
Imperfect victims exist everywhere, not just among women and sex workers. Younis Chekkouri, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, is an imperfect victim, despite apparently being haplessly innocent. Isn’t innocence part of the definition of victimhood? Why then, is innocence removed from imperfect victims? Because, somehow, their lives render them less-innocent than the perpetrators who harmed them.
This has been said before, but if a perpetrator is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, how does it manage to work that the victim of certain crimes is automatically guilty, never to be innocent at all?
Every single time another person (usually black, often unarmed) is killed by police, their lives are scrutinized to find just how much of an imperfect victim they are in order to justify their death. The amazing discovery is that, aside from Tamir Rice (a child), none of these victims were perfect. They were human, sometimes making poor decisions, sometimes prior law-breakers, even if the laws broken were minor. Their imperfect victim status is touted as all the reason in the world for their death. It’s certainly a line of logic that sex workers recognize. When it comes to heavily stigmatized people, basically, you’re an imperfect victim because you’re still breathing.
While the antihero is a celebrated figure, imperfect victims open themselves up to re-victimization simply by being imperfect. Why does it work that way? Is it the inherent vulnerability of being a victim in the first place? I think that has a lot to do with it, actually. Only the perfect are allowed to be vulnerable, if you are imperfect then you had it coming to you. An antihero is not a victim. Often, antiheroes seek revenge and this is the opposite of vulnerable. Antiheroes aren’t “othered,” they’re seen as something to emulate.
The best, most meta statement on the antihero/victim dichotomy is summed up neatly in The Crow. Eric Draven comes back from the dead to hunt down and kill the extremely criminal men who killed him and his fiance. As he begins his night of revenge, he ironically tells one of the men (before stabbing him to death), “Victims. Aren’t we all?”
Imperfect victims who have the guts to come forward, especially once their cases make it to court, should be offered moral support — at the very least. This battle gets fought over and over again: every time a child abuse victim speaks up, a rape victim files charges, a sex worker is harmed by a client or someone in their personal life, and so on. At what point does the reverse happen and the perpetrator become an imperfect criminal? Even mass shooters often manage to escape the amount of blame heaped on the average rape victim, as minimizing excuse after excuse is offered for the shooters’ actions.
What makes a perfect victim? Being none of the above. White and male makes a huge difference to accessing justice, or managing not to be the victim of a crime in the first place. Money creates an even bigger gap (some of the people unjustly killed by police in this year have been white men who were poor). These three things alone will prevent the desire to show imperfections. Nice, right? (And who needs moral support when the entire system is perfectly aligned with your needs?)
This isn’t a very heartfelt blog post, but it’s only recently that I’ve realized how blocked I am from everything that is going on in my life. Professionally, I’m doing fine and have found my footing again. It’s nice. Personally, after all the shit that has happened, I have only true friends remaining and that’s very nice too.
But…writing-wise, very blocked because my limited creative energy goes either to making money as an escort or dealing with the ridiculous amount of ongoing stress in my life. So, I’m toe-dipping. It’s not like riding a bicycle. It’s like learning to do this all over again. I never intended this blog to get this personal and backing off from that point is harder than I thought it would be, even though I most certainly shy away from baring all online. I guess what I’m saying is I unintentionally shifted my boundaries and it’s weird. That, and limited creative energy due to having a TBI.
It took three years, but I finally had my neck surgery in June. Details and non-gross pictures to follow.
The US surgeons and doctors I spent thousands of dollars seeing were wrong in every way. First, they all missed my cracked vertebrae (aka broken neck). My broken neck could have also been very useful in a legal setting to prove the force of the plane crash. I do not have a history of broken bones (though I suspect a couple of my toes have been broken at some point).
Second, they’re all stuck on the idea of “conservative treatment” as opposed to surgically fixing what is wrong. No pills or shots or waiting two years will unherniate a herniated disc. Anyone who tries to claim differently is full of shit (and most of them were full of it).
Third, the US’s sole method of treatment for a herniated cervical disc is spinal fusion. The problem with fusing two vertebrae together with a disc of bone is that it adds abnormal stress to the surrounding bones and tissues, leading to more problems and future surgeries every couple of years. Great for the doctor’s and drug company’s pockets. Not so great for your neck and quality of life.
I have had very little experience with other countries’ medical systems but decided I could waste a little more money on a consultation with a surgeon (after I forced the front office to give me a cost estimate for the surgery to even know whether or not it was worth my time and money for the consultation). It is the best money I’ve invested in my healthcare yet.
Not only did I get an empathetic, objective doctor, I got one unbound by the US medical industry. Which means he was free to practice medicine in the way that best suits the patient and offers the most health benefits. He is the one who spotted my broken neck in my original July 2012 images. He explained the dangers of cervical fusion and why they prefer disc replacement. (The info on the US disc fusion scam I found out from one of Jill’s doctors.) After getting a new MRI of my neck, the good news is that I only need one disc replaced, the disc between my C5/C6 vertebrae. This is a simple surgery.
The replacement “disc” really looks like half of a small plastic pencil sharpener, with grooved teeth on the top and bottom. He said it feels like a cork. There is no metal hardware left in my neck, the natural force of my spine and the grooved teeth hold it in place. I also gained 1/4 inch in height. 🙂
The cost was right at $20,000USD; when you add in consultations, images, pre-surgery workup and post-surgery medication. If I could have had the same surgery in the US, it would have been an extra $10-20K more just for the surgery and overnight stay. My surgery included a private suite because I had to stay overnight for recovery and observation. I had a TV and Wifi, I surfed a little online but mostly slept. I didn’t even bother with the TV. I had a private bathroom rivaling a decent hotel bathroom (with handicap bars for safety reasons). Jill was with me for this and she had a bench couch several feet long, with pillows and blankets if she were going to spend the night. Though she didn’t need to spend the night, it was clear they were as concerned for family members as the patient. The food was actually great, I chose from a menu and had no problem choosing vegan options. I ate like a horse after the surgery (in other words, normally).
Jill just told me today that I did indeed watch TV all afternoon after surgery, episodes of “Criminal Minds.” Apparently I thought I was watching HGTV. I have no memory of this but it makes me laugh. I hope I enjoyed whatever I hallucinated I was watching.
I’m completely sold on the idea of having my main medical care outside the US. I hesitate to use the term “medical tourism” because that implies a one-and-done attitude, which is no longer my attitude. I am in a place that is known for encouraging medical tourism but the doctors are not at all money-hungry, say-anything types. They practice medicine as it is meant to be practiced. I don’t think they realize how much it means to me. If I were a weepy person, I would have wept with gratitude several times during the process.
You can read a detailed explanation of what is done during the surgery here. I had osteophytes (aka bone spurs), so those were shaved off while the surgeon was in my neck. The surgery itself took an hour, I think he said. I was fully under. It is the first surgery of my life. I had no major problems recovering, though I suffered an extreme bout of being hot, and had muscle spasms. I vaguely remember this. It does feel like my thermostat has been reset to “hot” and I’ve been cold-natured my whole life. I don’t know if this effect will subside or not. (I am sure the plane crash damaged my pituitary gland and I’ve been running hotter-than-normal since, but this is on a whole new level.) Anesthesia does many things, and different people have different reactions. I wore a soft cervical collar for 3 days after, which made sleeping difficult. I wasn’t doing much else anyway.
Pain was easily controlled with a mild prescription pain-killer. I only took it for a couple days for comfort. The worst pain was living with the injury for three years. Surgical pain? Hardly noticeable. (This is normal for this type of surgery.)
Recovery has been fairly easy. About two weeks after, I started having severe pain and stiffness, as if from whiplash. My follow-up visit explained that my muscles were out of shape because it had been three solid years since the plane crash. Some muscles were used to holding my head a certain way, while other muscles basically atrophied. Now that I have normal movement, my muscles are having to adjust.
The surgical follow-up basic neurological test was completely normal. I know that immediately after surgery I raised my left arm over my head and I felt no tingling. I could rest with that arm behind my head, no problem. I can even put a full towel on my head after my shower and no pain!!! I no longer have to use my special lightweight hair-drying turban if I don’t wish to. I can toss my hair back, turn my head both ways. I still have muscle pain when doing any motion that lifts the weight of my head but it is slowly lessening.
My scar is very minimal. I’m using a scar-reducing serum and Scar Away Silicone Sheets religiously. They glued my skin instead of using railroad track stitches. I will have a scar no matter what, but it won’t be more than a faint line in a few months. I recommend the Scar Away sheets; I honestly can’t tell if the serum is having any effect or not.
There are still weird nerve issues going on in my neck and jaw. This is normal because they’ve done some disruptive work on my neck. It’s all surface issues, so I think it’s really just the nerves under my skin that are affected. My skin is clearly unhappy but it is slowly going back to normal. Again, this isn’t anything abnormal from surgery, especially when we’re talking about the skin of the neck, skin that is more delicate than many other places on the body.
Would I do this again? In a heartbeat. This has changed my life for the better. I hoped that it would and it has. It’s a huge step forward in getting my life back and getting my body back. I will always have cognitive issues, no surgery can cure that. But my physical issues are over.
Living without pain and with nearly-full mobility is kind of weird now. (I’ll regain full mobility in time as my muscles get used to it.)
My surgery was on June 12. The plane crash was on June 13, 2012. It took that long. I lived with constant pain and problems and limited mobility and constant fear of further injury for three years. (Something like a fender-bender could have paralyzed or killed me.)
I know I’m not the only person in the world to live with such an injury, or even for that amount of time. I know that being able to earn the money to pay for the surgery in cash is a privilege, even though I was in constant pain. I also know that people who are stuck with American insurance as their sole source of healthcare don’t have the luxury of getting cervical disc replacement, or engaging in medical tourism. I am very thankful that things fell out the way they did because this is the best result for my health I could have hoped for.
This is something Pig could have paid for out of pocket, no problems at all. While I’m so glad I got a disc replacement and not fusion, the fact remains that I had to work my ass off to pay for surgery to fix the harm he caused me. He has not been held accountable in any way. I have to be responsible for his negligence and sociopathy.
Many people have donated and it helped, especially with basic living expenses when it was needed (thank you!!!) but the bulk of the cost I earned the old-fashioned way. This is no complaint, simply explaining how it was achieved. It has taken me longer than I wanted to fully get back on my feet.
Why did it take so long? Well, there are a lot of reasons, all of which can be laid at Pig’s doorstep. The whole first year was spent simply recovering from the plane crash, trying to assess the extent of my injuries and get treatment, getting over the emotional trauma and preparing to go into hiding. I saw only two new clients that year and one long-time regular. I was in no shape for it, physically or emotionally (my regular knew what was going on and he has been very supportive). The second year was spent living in hiding, seeing no one, and planning subsequent steps, both legal and work-related; which led into this past year, one of the main goals was getting my surgery done. That process began in January with finding a new surgeon.
I made the mistake of not returning to work soon enough and that was due to emotional trauma left by Pig and the plane crash, I’m not going to lie about it. When I did finally return, I was pretty raw and made newbie mistakes because my head wasn’t where it should be. I’m back to being a professional now but it did take some time. Had I gotten my ass back in the sling faster, I could have had my surgery six months sooner. I don’t know that it makes a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, but I still place ultimate culpability for the entire situation squarely on Pig (because he is the whole reason all this happened in the first place).
Now that it is done, it’s weird that I don’t have it hanging over my head anymore. I’m free to plan new goals and any money I earn or spend isn’t all about the surgery (especially the spending part). It’s a very free feeling. The lack of pressure is strange but I think I can get used to it.
For the most part, this also frees me to start thinking about/writing about other things. Pigshit continues but unless something truly noteworthy happens, the blog goes back to my random topics (and I have several topics to chew on, of course!).
None of this changes how I feel about Pig or negates anything I said in this post. Not one single whit.